Westminster City Council to unveil statue to film icon Charlie Chaplin in Leicester Square

Fri, 15/04/2016

Film icon Charlie Chaplin will return to Leicester Square this weekend as Westminster City Council unveils a refurbished outdoor bronze statue depicting the world famous actor, comedian, and filmmaker. The statue will be unveiled at 12pm on Saturday 16th April 2016 by Cllr Robert Davis MBE DL (Deputy Leader of Westminster City Council, and Cabinet Member for the Built Environment) and John Doubleday (Sculptor of the Charlie Chaplin Statue). There will also be a short performance, based on the life of Charlie Chaplin, by students from the Sylvia Young Theatre School.

The statue unveiling coincides with Chaplin’s birthday, as well as the opening of a new museum to Chaplin at “Manoir de Ban” in the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland, where he spent the last 25 years of his life.

Charlie Chaplin became a global icon in the film and entertainment industry during the early 20th century with his screen persona of “The Tramp”, and had a career spanning more than 75 years, from childhood in the Victorian era until a year before his death in 1977.

He is widely considered one of the most important figures in the history of the film industry, with honours including a Knighthood, three Academy Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and six of his films being in preservation at the National Film Registry of the United States Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.  

Consequently, the statue in Leicester Square was produced by sculptor John Doubleday, who after studying sculpture at Goldsmiths College, has gone on to establish a 40 year career which has included exhibitions in Britain, Europe and the USA.

The statue was originally installed in Leicester Square in 1981, with a copy of the UK statue being installed in Vevey, Switzerland in 1982. In 2012 Westminster City Council completed an 18 month-long £15.5 million regeneration of Leicester Square, delivered in partnership with the Mayor of London, TfL and major local property owners, during which time the statue was moved to Leicester Place to avoid being damaged by the improvement works.

Cllr Robert Davis (Deputy Leader of Westminster City Council, and Cabinet Member for the Built Environment): “Charlie Chaplin is a towering figure in the entertainment industry, whose career spanned 75 years. He wrote, directed, produced, edited, starred in and composed the music for some of the most influential films in history and was a truly multi-talented performer. Consequently, with Leicester Square being the home of UK film and cinema, I am delighted that we have been able to reinstall his statue as the final piece in the puzzle of Westminster’s landmark public realm regeneration of the square.”

Mr Urs Eberhard (Vice President, Switzerland Tourism) said: “The importance of the relationship between the City of Westminster and Switzerland goes back to when the Swiss Centre was sited on Leicester Square. Today this relationship is still visible in the form of the Glockenspiel in the Swiss Court.  We particularly welcome the arrival of this statue. A symbol of an enigmatic British icon, who lived for the last 25 years of his life in Switzerland and a reminder of the enduring Swiss-British connection. We’re happy that, the birthday of Charlie Chaplin, sees the statue returned to its original location on Leicester Square as a permanent tribute. A copy of this statue lies on the shores of Lake Geneva, while Chaplin’s former residence has been transformed into a new museum, ‘Chaplin’s World’, in his honour, opening on his birthday."

Mr John Doubleday (Sculptor of the Charlie Chaplin statue) said: “There are many youngsters today who have never heard of Charlie Chaplin.  It gives me great pleasure to see Charlie back in Leicester Square as a lasting tribute to his gift to all of us.  This sculpture is more than a mere cheeky intrusion into the theatrical world – it is a reminder of our history.”

Last updated: 22 April 2016